Defending our Walking Dead Podcast, or, Why you don’t know how to listen
The past few weeks have been rather tough on me. We’ve received a record number of complaints, and every one of them directed towards our Walking Dead podcast. Apparently I am not allowed to dislike an episode of The Walking Dead.
A couple of weeks ago, I found myself disliking an episode of the AMC hit series titled “The Suicide King”. This was only the second of 31 instalments of the series that I’ve downright hated for multiple reasons (read my review here). The negative review on our podcast was met with a flood of angry emails, with some demanding that we stop recording a podcast dedicated to Robert Kirkman’s hit series.
I understand we offer a free podcast and I understand that we never send out invites to listeners to tune in. I understand that listeners access our podcast on their own free will and that nobody is holding a gun to their head and forcing them to listen along. So I clearly I understand that we must be horrible people to produce a podcast that features critical analysis of a television show. Perhaps the majority of the world’s population suffers from short term memory loss, that they feel we should instead spend the entirety of the podcast recapping scene by scene what took place. Would this be better than, I don’t know, say actually reviewing the series? Why would anyone spend an hour of their life, listening to three hosts reenact every scene, rather than simply re-watching the episode instead? Call me crazy, but if I wanted to relive the events of The Walking Dead, I’d rather re-watch the episode than sit around and listen to a bunch of strangers remind me of what happened. But according to the feedback, I’m the crazy one who wastes my time every week, recording a podcast with critical analysis.
I’ve been locked away in my home for the majority of this cold bitter winter, so can someone fill me in on what is going on in the world. Did the majority of the population drink stupid juice?
I understand that my co-host Simon isn’t the biggest fan of The Walking Dead, but I don’t think that is a bad thing. Isn’t it more interesting to listen to a fan argue with a non-fan about what makes the show work or not work? Isn’t critical analysis far more interesting than sitting around listening to a bunch of fanboys do nothing but sing high-praise for every decision The Walking Dead show-runners make? And aren’t these the same fanboys who spend hours every week on message boards bitching about the missing-Sophia-subplot or Andrea’s relationship with the Governor? Do I need to join some secret fanboy club to be awarded the right to voice an opinion?
I could understand if we were a bunch of dicks with nothing intelligent to say, much like some of the commenters who’ve left hateful comments about us across the net – but we are not. Each and every week, Kate, Simon and I, discuss what we feel works or doesn’t work on the show in a civilized manner. I hate to break the news to all the fanboys, but as much as I love The Walking Dead, it is far from perfect. Sorry folks, but the comic book is far better than the television show and that is disappointing. Do I like the TV series? Yes, of course I do, but as I mention each and every week, it can improve, and I know this, because I have a benchmark to compare it to. But this ignorance, generated by ungrateful, self-entitled fanboys needs to end. Hateful remarks are just not cool.
Nobody is forcing you to listen to our show and honestly, if you can’t handle critical discussion, you should avoid visiting the internet in general, because everyone has an opinion to share, and you are most likely going to stumble across someone who you will disagree with at one point in time.
But here’s what I really don’t understand: Every week I must drop the word “love” a minimum of seven times during our broadcast. “I LOVE this episode”, I say, or “I LOVE this character,” and so on. So why is it that people seem to think I am so negative? I admit I was a bit of a downer during the review of “The Suicide King,” but that was only one of 35 shows, and truth be told, these complaints keep pouring in, even when I am most positive.
So a few days ago, I decided to start inviting guests on a weekly basis to our podcast. I figured we could use a second opinion because maybe these hateful listeners were right about us, and maybe The Walking Dead series is far better than we give it credit. So who better to invite than a critic who writes reviews of The Walking Dead for an extremely popular publication. A funny thing followed after the broadcast. Within a night of publishing the podcast online, I received even more feedback, only this time complaining that this well respected professional critic who is actually paid to review the series every week, was far too negative and (to put it nicely), “ill-equipped to review the show.”
So I’d ask you all to consider this:
The world is now cluttered with various methods of communication (Twitter, chat rooms, Facebook, Tumblr, text messages, blogs), and other minute-by-minute distractions that have affected how well we listen. We now live in an environment in which we take in so much information by the minute, that we can only filter in so much of what we see and hear. Even worse, people, tend to avoid information that contradicts what they already think or believe and tend to surround themselves with like-minded people. Recent studies indicate that most people, particularly those with more close-minded personalities, are even more reluctant to expose themselves to differing perspectives. Instead they tend to gravitate to people who only share their opinions. Statistics also show that people who have little confidence in their own beliefs are less likely to expose themselves to contrary views than people who are very confident in their own ideas. In other words, I can make eleven comments on the podcast, ten positive and only one negative, but the majority of listeners will remain glued to the one critical remark I made, and forget the rest.
The good news is that one out of three people are open to various opinions and views, and so while the majority of The Walking Dead fans won’t enjoy our show, at least we can take solace in knowing that those far more open minded and confident will.
As for everyone else, we don’t charge or force you to listen to our show, much like AMC doesn’t force us to watch or review The Walking Dead. If you don’t like what we do, move on to the next podcast. We are open to criticism of our show, but we don’t tolerate hate. And we understand our audience is small, but that we are ok with that. Love it or hate it, this is the show we want to produce.